The rumors were true, and now that I've played it, I'm glad. Sony has been working on a mashup fighting game that pits many of their first-party characters against each other in a Smash Bros. style four-player match. This brawler was shown off for the first time earlier this week at a PlayStation press event, where I got to mash buttons playing as Kratos, Parappa the Rapper, Sly Cooper and others. They call it PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and it's going to be a pretty big deal.
While All-Stars pulls from two decades of Sony game history, we were only shown six characters and four stages at this event. This means that you should probably get ready for the inevitable slow character rollout, with what's sure to be more reveals at E3 later this year. Still, this early look was enough to get a solid picture of what to expect in the final version, and from what I've seen they have a pretty good thing going on here.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is being developed by SuperBot, a company purpose built within Sony Santa Monica for the job. The team consists of members with extensive backgrounds in fighting and combat titles, and they come with an understanding of how their title will have to appeal to a wide audience, satisfying both casual gamers and hardcore fighting game fans. We've only seen a small taste, but it's clear that these guys know their shit.
Through their work, the game's control is really easy to learn, and not unlike other four-player brawlers out there. Either the left analog stick or the d-pad controls movement of your character. I found that I like the d-pad a bit more as button commands can be combined with directional presses to access additional moves, with the d-pad giving me better control of those. The right stick will let you perform throws, with different ones assigned to each direction. The X button jumps, and the other three face buttons are assigned to different attacks. L1 blocks and R1 picks up items.
The last control, assigned to R2, executes a super move. While fighting, you'll build up a meter that lets you perform a super move that knocks out characters. Also, some attacks knock AP (action points) out of opponents, letting others pick them up to fill up these meters. There are three levels of supers, each one stronger than the last, and each requiring another filling of this meter. If you can manage to land hits and survive long enough, a level three super can knock out all other players, earning you points.
This brings us to All-Stars' battle system and scoring. Victory goes to the player with the highest number of KOs; knocking out a character adds to your score while being knocked out subtracts from it. So, there's nothing in the way of health bars here, as health doesn't really matter in the long run. This makes for a game that's really easy to get into, as there's no technical scoring to learn.